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Effective Use of Affirmative Programmes in the Professionalization of women in India’s Public Sector

Globalization has created unprecedented opportunities for growth and expansion. It has also led to greater competitive pressures as organizations compete with each other for market dominance and leadership. In the aftermath of economic reforms in India, public sector organizations have lost the comfort of a monopoly position and have increasingly been exposed to pressures of a market economy. The PSUs have responded admirably through business restructuring and focusing attention on improvements in internal capabilities and efficient deployment and utilization of resources. Several recent developments and policy initiatives, particularly in the area of incentives and rewards, do seem to suggest rising stakeholder expectations from employees, both in the magnitude of the tasks and personal accountability.

Evidence from experiences in the western world does seem to indicate that as organizations increasingly jostle for their long term survival and get enmeshed in competitive market pressures, the employees find their professional commitments expand to a level that leaves them with little space and time for non- professional or non-work related engagements. The women employees, who are already juggling with the complexities of multiple roles, will find it even harder to optimally manage their work-life space. In a research study done recently, 70% of women employees were found to feel that they have no balance between work and non-work lives. The socio-economic and demographic profiles do suggest that the conditions, such as working mothers with infants and school going children, dual career families, lack of emotional and constructive engagement with children due to increase in work pressure, etc. will further exacerbate the conflict between work and non-work in the lives of woman employees leading to psychological and financial costs, which ironically are rarely recognized and evaluated.

It is significant to note here that many forward looking organizations have built Flexibility into their structures, rules and procedures as an expression of their culture than as a measure of benevolence towards individual needs of women.

There is a large menu of programmes that organizations pursue, depending on their unique context and needs. It must be recognized that these programmes have gone a long way in remedying gender based discrimination and creating conducive environment for empowerment of women. However, one of the key questions women themselves will have to deal with, in a spirit of self reflection and introspection, is how they can truly utilize the opportunities that organizations offer through women focused affirmative programmes to consolidate further their professional identities and legitimize reciprocity involved in mutual value creation.

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About Ashok Bhat

Ashok Bhat
Ashok Bhat is a management consultant, trainer and teacher. He has more than three decades of experience in anchoring a large number of initiatives in HR systems and processes, change management, training and development, organizational diagnosis and redesign across private, public, government and non-government organizations. Ashok can be reached at: ashokbhat@mindsharehr.com

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